Peru: Machu Picchu & Classic Inca Trail Private Trek

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

Peru offers great civilizations, vast landscapes, and a people rich and alive in their culture and history. Find yourself wandering colonial cities, visiting the Inca capital of Cuzco, exploring the lost city of Machu Picchu and walking the ancient trails and ruins of the Incas. The four days and three nights we spend on the Inca Trail are the highlight of this trip.

Hiking the Classic Inca Trail has been immortalized as a phenomenal adventure travel feat. It is a remarkable hike that crosses Dead Woman’s Pass (4,200 meters or 13,860 feet in elevation), offers stunning views of the surrounding cloud forest and peaks of the Andes Mountains, visits several isolated Incan ruins en route, and ends at the Sun Gate overlooking Machu Picchu.

Our days on the trail are filled with the astonishing sights, while nights are spent swapping stories and learning about the area from our local guides. You’ll sleep in tents for the three nights on the trail and have local staff that carry your equipment, cook your meals, and cater to your every need. They’ll even deliver hot tea, coffee, and hot water to your tent door each morning. While this is camping, it is luxurious and truly exotic. This trip includes airport-to-airport service, acclimatization hikes in the Sacred Valley, a scenic train ride through the Andes, and a post-trek day in Cusco.

Trip Favorite Moments & Reviews

“Fabulous – HIGHLY recommend it to anyone – in fact I have told a number of people it has to be on their Must Do List. Trip was well organized, perfectly paced, great mix of rugged (camping) and luxury (Sol y Luna and Machu Picchu Inkaterra were both fabulous!).”

Sue R.

“Best trip I’ve ever taken. Fun from start to finish. Well above expectation. Exhilarating. Spectacular views, educational, finishing the journey was a satisfying achievement. First class experience. Highly recommended. I have been telling everyone I know directly and through Facebook.”

Stuart M.

Details

Other Info: $82 for Huayna Picchu hike (see below)

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Trip Highlights

  • Explore the lost city of Machu Picchu, the fascinating relic of a past civilization.
  • Hike in the footsteps of an ancient culture on the Inca Trail.
  • Live deeply in the rich and diverse culture of Peru.
  • Experience "luxury camping" while on the trail and wonderful 3- and 4-star hotels before and after the trek.
DAY 1

We will meet you at the Cusco airport at 11 AM, or our downtown Cusco hotel at noon and head for a wonderful introductory lunch. Our destination today is the quaint village of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley outside of Cusco, which is at 2750 meters (over 9000 feet) above sea level. We’ll spend our afternoon acclimatizing to the altitude while we hike around town for several hours and visit the archaeological remains. Ollantaytambo was an important fortified city, built to control the roads to the jungle and, according to many historians, to allow the great Incan capital to protect its people from their enemies, the Antis.  From there, we will check into our hotel and enjoy dinner and perhaps our first wonderful sips of coca tea.

DAY 2

After breakfast, we shuttle to the Moray agricultural laboratory, also located in the Sacred Valley. This impressive off-the-beaten-path site has a cavernous ampitheater-like bowl with dozens of concentric terraces, each with its own microclimate. The Incas used this outdoor laboratory to determine the optimal conditions for growing crops of each species. From there, we hike to the nearby town of Maras for a lunch prepared by our local guide and staff. Afterwards, we’ll continue on foot to visit the nearby salt pans, where local families make their living mining salt. Our total hiking time today is approximately three hours and will help us acclimatize for our trek. We’ll return to Ollantaytambo for a pre-trek route talk about packing, a wonderful dinner and our comfortable beds.

DAY 3

After a morning transfer by private motorcoach to the town of Piscacucho (2750m/9075 ft), which is also Kilometer 82 of the railway, we have an introduction to our equipment, the route and our porters, and begin trekking through semi-arid terrain along the left bank of the Urubamba River, with magnificent views of snow-capped mountains on the horizon.  After two hours we arrive above the ruins of Llactapata (2650m/8745ft).  Here we leave the Urubamba and set off up the Kusichaca River Valley to our camp near Wayllabamba (3000m/9900 ft).  Walking from Piscacucho to Wayllabamba is approximately 12 kilometers and takes us four to five hours.

DAY 4

After a healthy breakfast we begin to walk uphill to the great Warmihuañusca (Dead Woman) pass, which at 4200m/13860ft is our highest point on the trek. We have a steep climb in the morning with a gain of 1200m/3960ft. This is a day we’ll be very happy to have porters! The top of the pass offers a view you will not soon forget and we allow plenty of time at the top to appreciate it. We descend 2000 feet on stone steps to Pacaymayo (3600m/11880 ft), our second camp. Note this is the most difficult of the four days and will be very challenging for most people. The key is to go slowly and steadily. Walking time from Wayllabamba to Warmiwañusca Pass is nine kilometers and four to five hours. Walking time from the pass down to the campsite is about two kilometers and another one to two hours.

DAY 5

From our campsite, we take a steep but short ascent to the Runkurakay circular ruins, a lookout point over the passes below. From here there is no sign of human life, only great forests and abrupt hills. The uphill continues for a short while after the ruins and then we head down on a well-preserved section of trail to the Sayacmarca ruins (3580m/11814 ft). These ruins are another short but steep climb off the main trail and are well worth visiting. After lunch the trail heads into jungle terrain and a spectacular cloud forest before arriving at our third camp (3760m/12400 ft), where we’ll have a view of the surrounding peaks like you’ve never seen! Walking distance for the day is eight kilometers and four hours, so we have plenty of time to explore Runkurakay and Sayacmarca. Although we will have several ascents and descents, our total elevation gain will be only 40m/132ft.

DAY 6

We rise early today, our final day on the trail, to watch the sun’s rays splash onto the surrounding mountaintops. The entire morning will be downhill on stone steps. We stop for a brief visit at the ruins below our campsite, Phuyupatamarka, before continuing our descent through the jungle to the Wiñay Wayna Ruins (2650m/8745ft). These are significant ruins, second only to Machu Picchu. We continue to Inti Punku (also known as the Sun Gate), our final mountain pass and from here you’ll have your unforgettable first glimpse of Machu Picchu.   It is a short one-kilometer descent from the Sun Gate into Machu Picchu itself (2400m/7920ft) and from there we will take a quick shuttle (sitting on a bus never felt so good!) to our hotel. You might be tired from your days on the trail, but you will definitely want to take time to explore bustling little Aguas Calientes, the town directly below Machu Picchu, and perhaps purchase some last-minute souvenirs. Walking time from Phuyupatamarca to Wiñay Wayna is seven kilometers and three hours and on to Machu Picchu is another six kilometers and two to three hours. We have a total elevation loss of 1240m/4092ft.

DAY 7

We will return to Machu Picchu today, just in time to see the sun rise, and we’ll have it mostly to ourselves for a few hours (before the hordes of visitors arrive by train from Cusco) . You’ll have the option to learn more about its fascinating history via your own guided tour or to take a challenging hike up the steep mountain of Huayna Picchu (we need to purchase ahead of time a separate permit for each person who elects to participate in this option) before returning to Aguas Calientes. We will then return to Ollantaytambo by train and then transfer by private coach to Cusco (which takes a little over three hours) before enjoying our farewell dinner in town.

DAY 8

Our final day of exploration is in Cusco, the cradle of the Incan Empire and a beautiful city. The day includes options of a walk through Sacsayhuaman ruins, a guided walk through the city or time for you to explore and shop on your own. After lunch, we will transfer to the Cusco airport at which time you are free to depart the country or extend your vacation in Peru.

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Trip Accommodations

Night 1 & 2 >> Hotel Pakaritampu /Ollantaytambo

Located 56 miles from Cusco, in the heart of the Inca’s Sacred Valley, the Pakaritampu is in an ideal location for acclimating for our trek. We love the spectacular gardens here, as well as the friendly staff that makes sure we always have plenty of warm coca tea.

Night 3 - 5 >> Luxury Camping / The Inca Trail

Camp at luxury sites throughout the Inca Trail. Our staff will set up your tent, carry your gear, and prepare your meals.

Night 6>> El MaPi Hotel / Aguas Calientes

The contemporary El MaPi Hotel is a comfortable landing spot after three nights on the trail, especially when you are handed a refreshing lemongrass lemonade upon arrival. It is located in the center of “Machup Picchu town” and provides a perfect base for exploring.

Night 7 >> Costa del Sol Picoaga Hotel / Cusco

A four-star luxury hotel that was originally a mansion of the Spanish nobility. Located only two blocks from the Plaza de Armas, the main square of Cusco, it is a wonderful retreat in which to pamper ourselves for our last night of the trip!

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We will meet you at the Cusco, Peru airport (airport code CUZ) at 11 AM on the first day of the trip. If you arrive a day early, we can meet you at our Cusco hotel instead. Your return flight from Cusco should be late in the afternoon of the last day of the trip. We will provide further travel details upon booking.

WHAT'S INCLUDED?
  • Our Peru-based guide will accompany your group the entire trip. Porters, cooks, and camp staff will accompany us on the trek itself, as well as an assistant guide if numbers warrant this.
  • Double occupancy lodging is included. If you are traveling solo, we will match you with another traveler of the same gender. However, you may pay a single supplement to have your own room.
  • All meals from lunch on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 8 are included.
  • All ground transportation is included, including pickup at the Cusco airport.
  • All group camping equipment is included.
  • NOT INCLUDED: Beverages, desserts, lunches, gratuities to your guides, personal expenses and travel to and from the destination.

 

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